Grapevine: Ilan marks its 60th anniversary

President Shimon Peres says “we all suffer from disabilities of one kind or another.”

World Chambers Federation meeting in Paris 370 (photo credit: Courtesy)
World Chambers Federation meeting in Paris 370
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Speaking to a group of children and adults in wheelchairs, members of their family, staff, volunteers and supporters of Ilan – The Israeli Foundation for Handicapped Children – President Shimon Peres said on Thursday: “We all suffer from disabilities of one kind or another.”
Ilan was initially founded to help children who were victims of a polio epidemic that broke out in Israel in the early 1950s. One of those victims was world-renowned violinist Itzhak Perlman, who attended Ilan’s 60th anniversary celebration – which like the 50th, was held at the President’s Residence.
Another famous person from the music industry who was stricken with polio in his youth, and also benefitted from Ilan, was composer and Israel Prize laureate, Nahum Heiman. He not only attended the event, but composed a special song for it, which was sung in a video presentation by his daughter, pop singer Si Heiman, who was accompanied by an Ilan choir.
Ilan was founded by a Canadian immigrant, Betty Dubiner, who passed away four years ago. It was at Dubiner’s urging that the Salk vaccine was brought to Israel and thousands of children were immunized. She also organized a system for the care and rehabilitation of the physically disabled and initiated Ilan’s annual March of Dimes door-to-door campaign.
Dubiner also advocated for the expansion of Ilan to cities and villages throughout the country, and today there are 41 Ilan facilities extending from the Golan Heights to Eilat.
■ IT’S NOT unusual for two sisters to give birth within a few hours of each other, but three sisters within 48 hours – all at the same hospital – is a rare stretching of coincidence. More than that, all three of them had girls. The sisters, Esther, Malka and Ariel, who are aged from 31 to 42, all gave birth at Beilinson Hospital. With their new additions brought the total number of children that they have between them to 27.
Esther, the youngest of the three sisters, was the first to give birth. All six of her children are girls.
■ AT THE recent meeting in Paris of the Council of the World Chambers Federation, Uriel Lynn, president of the Israeli Federation of Chambers of Commerce, approached his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Nahavadian during the coffee break. His goal was to put a positive spin on the relationship between the Iranian and Israeli peoples and do away with hostilities.
Lynn told Nahavadian that animosity does not serve the interests of Iran or of any country and therefore they should work to change the status quo. If the government of Iran understands that it is right and opportune to move toward friendship with Israel, said Lynn, both sides will benefit. Lynn, who is a former member of Knesset, went a step further and proposed to Nahavadian that if he should find a willing ear in Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a summit meeting could be arranged between the leaders of both countries. Nahavadian did not reply, “but at least he listened and he smiled,” said Lynn. Other participants at the WCF meeting included top-ranking representatives of chambers of commerce from India, Dubai and Saudi Arabia.
■ SECURITY PERSONNEL responsible for the safety of Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz found themselves in somewhat of a quandary when Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai, known to be an avid cyclist, took him on a tour of the city and suggested that Steinitz would get a better and closer perspective from the seat of a bike than from inside a car. Steinitz, who had admitted to not having ridden a bike for several years, gamely took up the challenge on the premise that anyone who has ever ridden a bike never really forgets the technique, and succeeded in not losing his balance. When bodyguards had difficultly in keeping up with the two, given that there are places where bikes can enter and cars cannot, it was suggested that they should also ride bikes in order to perform their duties.
■ THREE PEOPLE engaged in vastly different areas of community service are the recipients of this year’s Oz Zion (Strength of Zion) Moskowitz awards. They are emergency medicine specialist Dr. Yitzhak Glick, who is chairman of the Efrat Emergency Medical Servicer, Attorney Nitzana Darshan- Leitner, who wages relentless legal battles against those who wish to harm the State of Israel and its people, and Tzvika Slonim, who, according to the adjudicators of the prize, personifies the most positive of Israeli qualities.
Glick, originally from Cleveland, Ohio, recognized the need for a medical center in Efrat and pioneered its establishment, not only overcoming bureaucratic hurdles but also raising funds to enable its construction. In 2009 he was among the recipients of the President’s Prize for Volunteerism. Glick is also a volunteer with Magen David Adom.
Darshan-Leitner established the Shurat Hadin civil rights organization in Tel Aviv in 2003 to hit terrorists in their pockets through lawsuits litigated against them in courts around the world. Shurat Hadin represents hundreds of victims of terrorism in what Darshan-Leitner calls lawfare against terror organizations and the countries and financial institutes that support them. The adjudicators commended Darshan-Leitner’s persistence.
Slonim is among the founders of Gush Emunim and of the Ariel University Center. He also established the Eretz Israel Academy and a school for Ethiopian girls in Kedumim., often working against near impossible odds but refusing to be deterred. In addition, he played a leading role in settling Russian immigrants in Judea and Samaria. He was also among the founders of a fund for the reclamation of land from Arab property owners.
The adjudicating panel was headed by Brig. Gen. (Res) Avigdor Kahalani, a former war hero and former government minister. The Oz Zion prize, which includes a $50,000 cash award, was established by Dr. Irving and Cherna Moskowitz as an expression of support for the people whose lives reflect the implementation of Zionism and who work for the greater good of society and the strengthening of the Jewish national home.
■ JOURNALISTS WHO lack academic qualifications are starting to make news in addition to reporting it. First it was Yair Lapid, who aroused the ire of the Council for Higher Education when Bar Ilan University accepted him for a masters degree course and a subsequent doctoral program when he did not have a BA. The council took Bar Ilan to task for violating the rules.
Now it’s former Ha’aretz editor Hanoch Marmory, who on Wednesday was elected president of the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design even though he is not a professor and also lacks a
Marmory, who headed the academy’s frontal communications department for three years after leaving Haaretz, is due to replace Prof. Arnon Zuckerman, Bezalel’s president since 2003. It is not yet known how the Council for Higher Education will react to the announcement of Marmory’s presidency, or whether it will permit it.
Marmory would not be the first nonacademic president of an institute of higher learning in Israel. Earlier this month, businessman Amos Shapira was elected president of the University of Haifa, causing a certain tut-tutting in the corridors of the university because he is not professor. But he does at least have an MA in industrial management from the Haifa Technion. Shapira is due to take up his term in October, replacing Prof. Aaron Ben-Ze’ev, who is completing two terms.
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